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Christchurch: supporting recovery in the local cultural sector

The cultural recovery of Christchurch continues to be a major focus for the Ministry. The Ministry assisted the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) with the development of the cultural component of a recovery plan that recognised arts, culture and heritage, history, sport and recreation as playing an important role in the revitalisation of central Christchurch.

Regenerate Christchurch was established in April 2016 through the passing of the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Act, and will exist until June 2021, after which time it will transition into a solely Council-owned organisation.

View the above 2016 YouTube clip which celebrates the Christchurch Cultural Recovery Centre and its achievements. The Centre received Government funding to assist with storing and rehabilitating collections.

Recovery Strategy

The Recovery Strategy for Greater Christchurch is the key reference document guiding the reconstruction, rebuilding and recovery of greater Christchurch under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery (CER) Act 2011.

Since the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 the Ministry has been coordinating cultural recovery across government and in the Christchurch community. The Arts and Culture Recovery Programme for Greater Christchurch is a key component of this work

Arts and Culture Recovery Programme for Greater Christchurch

The Ministry sought feedback on the draft Heritage buildings and places recovery programme for greater Christchurch. We were interested in hearing from heritage property owners, heritage property management groups, heritage advocacy groups and professional organisations. In December 2014, we published the final Heritage Recovery Programme document.

Heritage recovery programme [November 2014].

Draft heritage buildings and places recovery programme for greater Christchurch.

This follows on from an earlier 2012 scoping paper:

Recovery programme for heritage buildings and cultural heritage places : scope of work.

Sport New Zealand is leading the third component of cultural recovery, the Sport and Recreation Recovery Programme which is concentrating on sport and recreational infrastructure and participation.  The Sport and Recreation Recovery Programme was released online in 2014.

Sport and  Recreation Recovery Programme

2016 Literature Review

In May 2016, the Ministry published "Gauging the Impacts of Post-Disaster Arts and Culture Initiatives in Christchurch – a Literature Review"  prepared by Life in Vacant Spaces Charitable Trust for the Ministry.

The objective of the literature review was to gather and assess existing research on the impacts arts and culture activity has had on cultural, social, health and economic wellbeing in the community in the Christchurch region following the earthquakes in 2010/2011.  The review includes the key findings of each study and the robustness of the methodology used; a summary of the findings from the literature, and recommendations on potential areas for further study.

Gauging the Impacts of Post-Disaster Arts and Culture Initiatives in Christchurch – a Literature Review

Venue overview document

In April 2014 the Christchurch Venue Overview and Assessment Report commissioned by the Ministry on advice from the Joint Agency Group (including representatives from the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, Christchurch City Council and Creative New Zealand) was released.

This report provides an independent, expert view of the current situation regarding performing arts venues that are both purpose built for performance and provide open access to performing arts practitioners in Christchurch city.  The report is intended to assist venue developers and users in their decision making.  Data associated with the report is also intended to inform the CERA Planning and Community Toolset.

Christchurch venue overview assessment report

A significant number of the anchor projects fall within the interests of the Ministry and its funded agencies, and we have a particular responsibility for Te Puna Ahurea Cultural Centre, and the Performing Arts Precinct. Having these important cultural, heritage and sport and recreation projects at the heart of the central city recovery demonstrates how highly New Zealanders hold in esteem their culture and heritage.  These projects replace facilities that have been destroyed. They will stimulate other development, attract people, and regenerate and improve the urban form of the city.

Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial

The National Earthquake Memorial, initially led by the Ministry under the Arts and Culture Recovery programme is also a Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) project and is linked to both the Heritage Building and Cultural Heritage Places Programme and the Avon River Park Precinct Anchor Project. With the Earthquake Memorial project transitioning from its conceptual to its operational phase, leadership of the project transferred from the Ministry to CERA in December 2013.

The formal memorial for the February 2011 Earthquake is built on the edge of the Ōtākaro/Avon River. The Canterbury Earthquake Memorial honours the lives of those who died in the earthquake, acknowledge the trauma of people who experienced the earthquake and recognises those who helped in the rescue and recovery operation in the hours and days following the February 22 quake.  The shape of the Memorial was decided through an open design process.

Memorial design ideas impress

In May 2015 Grega Vezjak's Memorial Wall design was selected for the Canterbury Earthquake Memorial. Read more about the design here.

The Memorial Wall consists of 517 panels of Italian marble, which have been placed on a concrete base wall. The names of those who lost their lives in the earthquakes and supporting text have been carefully inscribed using a sandblaster onto 21 panels and was dedicated in time for the sixth anniversary of the February 22 earthquake in 2017.

A Place to Remember to be dedicated in February

Coming together in a Place to Remember on February 22

The Ministry is also a member of the Sensitive Sites Cross-Agency Group, and provides input and advice to the Art Trail of the Avon River Park Precinct.

The Ministry has completed an oral history project - Remembering Christchurch.  This focused on the ‘human heritage’ of Canterbury through a collection of interviews with 20 men and women aged in their 80s and 90s. Interviewees are people who have lived most of their lives in Christchurch and can therefore reflect decades of personal and social experience in the city and surrounds. This book was published by Penguin Books NZ in September 2015.


Updated on 22nd February 2017